The most important leadership lesson and 12 key take-a-ways

Joseph Nye, in 5 Leadership Lessons, states that the most significant effective leadership trait in the real world requires a mixture of both hard and soft power. Their importance is due to their relation  in the ability to achieve one’s purpose by affecting the behavior of others.

Therefore smart leaders need both soft (co-operative) and hard power skills (command).

The appropriate style depends on the context

There are “autocratic situations” and “democratic situations,” normal and crisis conditions, & routine and novel crises. Good diagnosis of the need for change (or not) is essential for contextual intelligence.

Preparation is key in a crisis

The key to Leadership for crisis conditions requires advance preparation, emotional maturity, as well as the ability to distinguish the roles of operational, analytical, and political work. The appropriate mix of styles and skills varies with the stage of the crisis.

12 key take-a-ways

To complement the points above, here are my 12 key take-a-ways (so far) from Bringing Out the Best in People by Aubrey Daniels which I’m currently reviewing:

1. In a changing world, the science of behavior must remain the starting place for every decision we make. Performance management is about teaching managers how to influence behavior.

2. Every organizational accomplishment is dependent on behavior. We must not trivialize the work required to achieve human high-performance. The behavior of people in business is not just another issue to be considered, it must be at the center of ever business decision.

3. Solutions are only valid when they solve a problem permanently, and similar problems consistently. When leaders initiate any change in an organization, they will do so in ways that will cause people to either increase or decrease their effort, creativity, cooperation and the quality of their work.

4. The current cycle of temporary answers continues because most approaches to management are never rooted in anything more substantial than limited observations, in limited settings, over limited time periods.

5. Human performance is not a factor in a complicated equation for business success; it is the answer to the equation. Bringing out the best in people and achieving measurably superior results requires a clear and precise understanding of human behavior, yet most people understand the laws of human behavior at about the same level as they do the laws of gravity.

6. Performance management is not a one-time management solution to a single problem at work, but a precise, data-oriented approach where solutions can be replicated in the same or similar settings and even extend to new settings with similar results. It’s not enough to know that something works, but rather vitally important to know why it works.

7. Antecedents have limited control over behavior as their role is to get a particular behavior to occur once, where as consequences get the behavior to occur more or less frequently in the future. The only thing that makes an antecedent effective is its consistent pairing with a meaningful consequence.

8. People do what they do because of what happens to them when they do it. Management thus influences behavior as much by its action, as by its inaction.

9. People typically respond more predictably to small, immediate, certain consequences than they do to large, future, uncertain ones. This means that bonuses, profit sharing, retirement benefits, and similar forms of compensation do not bring out the best in people every day.

10. A consequence is defined as positive or negative by the person who receives it. People don’t resist change if it provides immediate positive consequences for them.

11. A significant part of every manager’s job is to identify those behaviors that are necessary and sufficient to accomplish the company’s objectives, then plan and deliver consequences that support them.

12. At the end of every working day people leave either more motivated to come back and do their jobs again tomorrow or less motivated as a result of what happens to them that very day.

How does any, or all of these points resonate with you today?

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